The Highly Anticipated Italy Trip

*Sigh* What a week it has been. I’m typing this on my train back to Grantham from London.  As you may know, this week was a “Long Weekend”, which means school was Mon-Weds.  This week, I embarked on my long awaited trip to Italy.  But first, the school week:

On Tuesday we had our 3rd basketball game here at Harlaxton.  We were playing against a team that we needed to beat by 5 points because the of handicap.  As the game played out, we got a 10 point lead at one point (largest of the night) and we’re feeling good.  Through dumb mistakes, and sloppy play, the other team came back and took the lead.  The 4th quarter began and we were still down by a few points.  I entered back into the game and when the final minute came around we were down by 1. I forced a turnover and I pushed the ball down the court on a 2 on 2 fastbreak, there were about 5 seconds left and we were down by 1. We NEEDED a score. I did what I know best, and scored a game-winning and-1 basket. I can lie to you and say I missed the free throw on purpose, but it’s a good thing I did. With 3 seconds left, the other team wouldn’t be able to push the ball down the court and get a good shot. They got the rebound and called a timeout, only to later miss the game winning shot. Although it was our real (W)in, it was actually a loss since we need a 5 point victory.  I think that the more we play together, the better we’re getting and that we know what we need to do to win.

On Wednesday, we had our first British Studies exam.  British Studies is the only course here that I don’t feel really good in, because history isn’t something I’m interested in.  For that reason it’s hard for me to focus and to generally even care.  But I still want an A in course.  The exam was two essay questions, and I think I did fairly okay.  I believe that I could have done better to prepare, but we’ll see how it went when I get the grades back.

Italia

After the exam, I got on a cab straight to the train station, then on a train straight to the airport. From there I was in the air and en route to Rome! Once in Rome on Wednesday night, I just picked up some pizza to go and checked into my hotel. It was pretty late, so I couldn’t really do anything.  

Thursday morning, I got up early and bought a day pass for the bus and was on my way to Vatican City. This was one of my major sites to visit for my time this semester, since I’d be able to see so much great ART. Seeing Raphael paintings for the second time this semester is such a treat, and I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to. Getting to see School of Athens in real life was one of the many highlights of Rome. I also got to see the Sistine Chapel.  These are pieces of art I’ve seen online, on TV, but never in real life.  I never really appreciated them until I saw their size, and their detail.

From there I took a bus to see the Colosseum, but knew there were a couple of Marcus Aurelius monuments I needed to check out.  Aurelius, not only ruled for some time, but also wrote the book I’m currently reading titled Meditations so I had to go a pay my respects.  After that I walked to the Colosseum, and check out that historical site.  To be completely honest, I thought being there was really fascinating, but I just wanted to go back to the Vatican. That makes me sound so spoiled haha! I spent the rest of Thursday walking around Rome taking cool picture and trying to absorb as much of the city and of the culture as I could.  Another confession I have is that I didn’t completely like Rome.  The city was so fast paced like London is, but everyone was a tourist. Even when I went to places that weren’t tourist attractions, I saw tourists. And everyone that wasn’t a tourist wasn’t really nice.

The next day (Friday), I took off for Pisa were I had a delicious lunch and got to see the leaning tower. I was only there for about 3 hours, but it felt like an eternity.  Pisa to me seemed like a real college town that has a major tourist attraction in it.  Other than the tower, I don’t know what more there is to the city.

The lunch I had was at the sandwich shop that had ridiculously good ratings and a line waiting for it to open.  I ordered what the 3 out of the four people in front of me ordered, a raw sausage sandwich that also had truffle cream, mushrooms, and brie.  I tried my best to not think about the sandwich having raw sausage in it, but I have to look at my food and it’s kind of hard to miss! Nonetheless, the sandwich was actually really really really good. Like nothing I’ve ever had before.  

At about 2 o’clock, my train left Pisa and went off to Florence.  After getting there, I checked into my hotel and went straight to the Galleria dell’accademia, where there are a bunch of Michelangelo sculptures along with THE David. I walked through the museum, taking my time and looking at all the cool art.  But once I got to the David sculpture, I audibly gasped.  That followed by a sigh of fulfillment.  Let me just say that Michelangelo’s David is like the most perfect sculpture ever.  From the proportions, to the faint detail, to the size, it is unmatched. Don’t @ me.

Florence has this EXTRAVAGANT cathedral that is probably the best looking one I’ve seen in my time abroad, and I’ve seen a few now. It was breathtaking.

Then Saturday came around and I took my journey to Venice.  I got Venice around 4, and noticed so many people wearing masquerade masks.  I didn’t know what was going on.  The streets were full of people walking the opposite direction of me and I didn’t know why? I overheard a group of Americans mention that there was the Venice Carnival that night at 6 along the Grand canal. I then checked into my hotel and headed towards the Grand canal. Literally the ENTIRE city was there and I had to walk quite a distance just to get a place to stand behind 4 people. Being sort of tall paid off big time that night.  The carnival was like a parade but through the water.

Sunday morning I checked out of the hotel at 7:30 and walked over to the San Marco region of Venice.  This is right by the water and where most of the touristy things are.  Going there super early was a superb decision because it was fairly empty at the time and when I swung by there at 10, the place was PACKED.  I took my pictures and walked through the small alleys that make up the city. When it was time for me to head to the airport, I took a ferry to the bus station and said my farewell to Italy.  

I got to London, with 2 hours to spare til my train left for Grantham, so I picked up some dinner and walked the streets near Kings Cross.  As I finish typing this blog, I’m still on the train back from London.

This trip to Italy is one I will NEVER forget. It’s also my first time ever traveling alone and in a country where English isn’t the primary language.  I think that this was a really valuable trip for me and I would love to go back to Italy in the future. Independently traveling definitely had its pros, but so does traveling with friends.  Would I do it again? Yes, without any hesitation!

Until next week,

Afsar

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